Marketers get creative with banner ads to fight declines

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A Volkswagen banner incorporates Twitter
A Volkswagen banner incorporates Twitter

Despite plateauing this year, Web banner ads remain a major source of advertising revenue for marketers. However, their creators are working to improve their effectiveness and interactivity with consumers.

Display-related advertising, which includes display ads, rich media, digital video and sponsorship totaled close to $3.8 billion in the first half of 2009, a 1.1% decline from the same period last year, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Digital video, on the other hand, continues to experience robust growth, seeing a 38% increase from the first half of 2008, during that period.

The jury is still out, however, on whether bigger banner ads are better. The clickthrough rate of standard banners tends to improve as unit size increases, according to an Eyeblaster study. An IAB study found that larger ad units are 25% more effective in lifting key brand metrics, such as brand awareness and message association.

Another study, from Dynamic Logic, claims the jury is still out on banner size, but agreed creative integrated into the content of a page is most effective in driving awareness and purchase intent.

“There was a focus earlier in the year about how to monetize display inventory,” said Ross McNab, director of global business development at Eyeblaster. Now, he indicated, “when you look at rich media engagement, it is higher than average. Users want to engage with the advertising but not necessarily through traditional banners.”

Eyeblaster created a rich media banner for Volkswagen that incorporates Twitter.

The user fills in his or her Twitter name into the banner, which then links to a recommended VW product page.

Time spent on content sites is growing, McNab added: “I'm less likely to want to click on a banner and go to another site.”

Marketers have been evolving banner ad campaigns from simple traffic generators to building engagement, particularly within the site, many experts said.

“As fewer people are clicking on banners, marketers are leveraging banners to engage their audience with their brand,” said Ranu Mehra, manager of digital strategy and emerging media at Dentsu America.

“We are seeing more banners with video, games, search capability and chat.”

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